Hollywood Studios Sue Movie Downloaders/Swappers

Following the lead of record companies suing small-time song-swappers, The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is representing several Hollywood movie studios in the first wave of lawsuits against individuals who have downloaded and/or are sharing movies over peer-to-peer networks.

When asked exactly how many suits have been filed, John Malcolm, senior vice president and director of worldwide anti-piracy operations for the MPAA, said, "It's not important. It doesn't matter if it's 10 lawsuits or 500 lawsuits. The idea here is that there is no safe harbor." Three lawsuits, obtained by The Associated Press, were filed in federal courts in Denver and St. Louis. Two lawsuits were filed in Denver against 22 defendants, while the one in St. Louis targets 18 individuals.

The lawsuits seek injunctions against the defendants. Copyright law also provides for penalties of up to $30,000 for each motion picture traded over the Internet, and up to $150,000 if such infringement is shown to be willful. Malcolm said more lawsuits would be filed in additional cities if the current legal action does not stem illegal downloading.

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